Trees Not Cars are featured as part of a national campaign, #cleartheair, run by the British Lung Foundation and Asthma UK, and participated at a panel event at COP26. Yesterday, 11th Nov, Julia Kovaliova and her 12-year-old son Maksim spoke alongside politicians and climate researchers about the need to improve air quality for the health of children.
Julia told Trees Not Cars’ story and how the campaign successfully won a legal challenge against the council, preventing them from putting a 440-space car park next to New Islington Free School.
Maksim told the panel about how more children in Manchester are developing asthma. He said the number of inhalers in the inhaler cabinet at his school increased over his time at New Islington Free School.
Maksim was diagnosed with asthma five years ago, after the family moved to Ancoats. Because he wasn’t born with the condition, it is most likely his asthma was caused by the environment.
Three girls from Levenshulme are also featured in the #cleartheair campaign and video and attended the COP26 event with their mothers. During the Q&A, one expressed her frustration with Manchester City Council for not doing enough for clean air and children’s health.
Family survey result: urgent need for green space in Ancoats
Trees Not Cars continue their fight for significant green space on the former Central Retail Park.
They ran an online survey to understand how families feel about the quantity and quality of play space in Ancoats. 124 families responded to the survey with the clear message that green space is urgently needed.
87% say there’s an urgent need for locally equipped quality play space for children in Ancoats. “We are moving out of the city centre to Chorlton,” wrote one parent, “We tried to make it work but it’s not easy to live here with a family and our children don’t have anywhere to play with their friends.” Another echoed these sentiments, saying “The city centre is in shambles and there is no green space for children. It needs one, otherwise I am planning to abandon the city centre shortly.”
99% say Central Retail Park should include significant green space. The number one thing families say the area needs for Anocats to be more secure and enjoyable place for children is green space (88%), followed by more playgrounds (74%), more children engagement centres like museums, art-craft centres, indoor play facilities (57%), more car-free streets (56%), and safe cycling paths (42%). Just one person says they think Ancoats is already a secure and enjoyable place for children.
Parents also call for lower speed limits, more clubs and local sports facilities for children (e.g. basket ball court, table tennis tables), more community spaces for parent groups, and raise concerns about drug use and drinking in the area.
“Speeding cars are terrifying when out with children. Had a few near misses and have nearly been ran over crossing a pedestrian crossing and at red light numerous times on the way to and from nursery. Never feel safe when out walking in the area. Cladding issues permitting am planning to move now New Islington is about to become a building site.”
“More kids clubs and local (low key) sports facilities. Even just a basketball court, and a few outdoor table tennis tables would make a real difference.”
“As a new mum I found a real lack in city centre baby groups. I asked other groups why this was and they said that the rent is too much for them to take classes in this community. So more places that people in the community can rent from ie a community centre.”
“Stop the street drinking and blatant drug dealing/taking in the square and the parks. Stop people using our doorways as toilets.”
Trees Not Cars have written a letter to the new council leader, asking for a meeting to discuss the future plans for the site. The group is keen to work together with the council and await a response.